NRL: Rookie Chanel Harris-Tavita to start for Warriors against Titans
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/111733886/-

2019-04-02 05:43:04

Chanel Harris-Tavita will make his NRL debut for the Warriors on Friday, replacing Adam Keighran in the halves, while Issac Luke is out.

At their training session earlier on Tuesday, Harris-Tavita worked with the regular starting team, while Keighran was with the reserves.

It was a tight battle between Harris-Tavita and Keighran going into the season as to who would replace Shaun Johnson in the halves.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney chose to give the Australian Keighran the first crack in the No 6 jersey and he did have a good game in the season opener against the Bulldogs.

However, his level dropped in the heavy losses to the Wests Tigers and Sea Eagles and Kearney is ready to give the 19-year-old his shot.

Kearney gave little away in his only media conference before Friday night's game but confirmed there would be changes to the team that has leaked 80 points in the last two weeks.

It would be wrong to make Keighran the scapegoat for the last two weeks, as there were plenty of other players who have been under performing.

But Kearney does have more depth in his squad this year than he's had in his previous two seasons at the Warriors and he is now able to drop players in form slumps.

"We understand with the last two performances that it's about making sure there are certain expectations that we have in the footy team," Kearney said.

"If I feel that adjustments need to be made to reach that expectation, then I'll make them."

But for Friday's game Kearney is down to Plan C at hooker, with Luke unavailable because of a hamstring strain and Nathaniel Roache not recovered from his calf strain.

That means Karl Lawton will wear the No 9 jersey, although Jazz Tevaga will share the hooking duties with him.

Luke didn't play in the second half against the Sea Eagles and Kearney said he was still unsure how long the veteran would be out for.

"He won't be available this week," Kearney confirmed.

"It was tightness to the hamstring, so he didn't come back on in the second half and it's too much of a risk.

"He's had a couple of dramas with it early on, missing the start of the season with tightness to the hamstring.

"So it's too much of a risk with the short turnaround."

Forward Ligi Sao is also in line for his first NRL appearance of the year after being included on the bench, while Leeson Ah Mau will start at prop.

There have been suggestions from Australia that Kearney's position at the Warriors is under pressure because of the two recent losses, but it's laughable to suggest there's any thought that the club would let him go, so soon after rewarding him with a contract extension.

For Kearney, this week is just the same as every other. Win or lose, he prepares for every game the same way.

"Every week is a challenge in this competition, it doesn't change for us," he said.

"One thing I know is that when you find yourself in a bit of a hole, which is where we are at the minute, you've got to work hard to get yourself out of it.

"Nothing changes in terms of our processes, it's about working hard to fix the things we need to be better at and that's what we've been doing this week."

AT A GLANCE

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Blake Green, Agnatius Paasi, Karl Lawton, Leeson Ah Mau, Isaiah Papali'i, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair. Interchange (from): Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa, Lachlan Burr, Ligi Sao, Gerard Beale, Leivaha Pulu, Adam Keighran, Blake Ayshford.

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